Disappointing for fans of the film
My wife and I took our 4 yo daughter to see this show, and I have to say we were disappointed. Our daughter enjoyed it well enough, but even she said, "It's not as good as the regular movie."
The story in the play is similar, but far from identical to the movie. I don't want to spoil things by giving a lot of examples, but one example I will give is that Mary Poppins actually leaves the Banks' employ by the intermission because Jane and Michael are being badly misbehaved. She is replaced as nanny by a strict, unfriendly and downright scary woman. I actually commented to my wife that the actress who played her may have originally auditioned for the role of Elphaba in Wicked, because she was every bit a witch.
Almost all of the scenes that fans of the movie love are missing or transformed, some nearly beyond recognition. Here's a list of what we noticed most:
Spoonful of Sugar - very different from the movie. Not bad, necessarily, but it just felt wrong.
Jolly Holiday - very different from the movie. One of the things I was eager to see is how they handled the "chalk picture" scene on stage. The answer is that they completely changed the scene to avoid it all together.
Time for Tea - missing.
Supercal - I really don't know what to say about this. Since the chalk picture scene was lost, the setup for the Supercal scene was lost, as well. However, the producers seemed to feel (correctly) that they couldn't do Mary Poppins without it. So, they shoe-horned it into the show in a manner that felt completely contrived and hokey. Also, the words to the song are completely changed. There is a short-but-excellent portion near the end of the scene that gets the audience going. That portion should have been an unforgettable Broadway touch on a classic scene. Instead, it was the only thing that saved the scene from being a total disaster. Overall, I rate this scene a major disappointment.
I Love to Laugh - missing. Uncle Albert is not a character in
Fidelity Fiduciary Bank - very different from the movie, and tremendously shortened.
Step in Time - This scene is the only true positive I took from the play, and, to be honest, it wasn't all that positive. First of all, the way the story moves to the rooftops is just as contrived as Supercal. However, if you can forgive that, what follows is a wonderful song and dance number that had the audience clapping along and dancing in their seats. The scene is fairly different from the movie, but it had a magic all its own. However, if forced to choose, I'd still say the movie scene was better. As I said, not much of a positive.
Let's Go Fly a Kite - As with Supercal, I just don't know what to say about this. Let me put it this way: In the play, the "Fly a Kite" scene occurs shortly after intermission, and Mr. and Mrs. Banks are not in the scene. Imagine the confusion when my daughter looked at me and said, "Oh, it's the end," and I had to explain that it wasn't. Enough said.
Now, is this a good play? I don't really know. I'm not a Broadway aficionado or a theater buff. Perhaps, all on its own, it is a good play. But, as a Broadway rendition of a movie that has been adored by generations, it stunk. We went expecting to see a classic musical performed live on stage. What we got was a story that only bore passing similarity to the original.
Some time ago, my wife and I went to see Beauty and the Beast performed on Broadway. We spent the whole performance saying, "How did they do that?" How did they represent the inhabitants of the enchanted castle so perfectly? How did they re-create the "Be Our Guest" scene so perfectly?
With Mary Poppins, the opposite is true. Why DIDN'T they stay true to the original? Why DIDN'T they re-create the classic scenes that made the movie so great? Obviously, I don't know those answers. I can only say that we were disappointed and leave it at that.